Simplified ribbon at the rescue !

Updated 27/09/2018

Version : √ OneNote for W10

√ OneNote desktop

The “simplified ribbon” UI just released this week (see this article from Microsoft for the rationale of this User Interface’ evolution) seems intended to address the challenge of “command density”, i.e. packing more commands / features in the OneNote UWP menus, which were primarily designed for touch devices / usage.

Tab names are now part of the white ribbon, simply underlined with a bold purple line :

Increasing command density ?

This is mostly a cosmetic change though.

Indeed, whereas the vertical space dedicated to commands gives the impression to have come through a diet, thanks to a narrower purple header, actually it hasn’t, as you can figure out in the overlay below :

Overlay of the previous (on the left) vs new “simplified ribbon” user interface (on the right)


It has nevertheless a more modern look !

But hopefully the commands’ font size has been reduced too, allowing to save some space in the width (although marginally) :

Comparison of the previous (above) vs “simplified ribbon” user interface (below) – both in French to compare apple with apple


But even with a smaller font size, some menus are reaching the limit :

View menu with the “simplified ribbon” user interface : there is no more spare space for a single new command / feature : expect a drop down menu soon, as in French (see below)

Enter Drop down menus

Thus Microsoft has started adding drop down menus :

View menu. Two features have been moved to a new drop down menu.

But these drop down menus have no header, creating a confusion with another kind of drop down menus (those who offer options to the command next to which they stand such as Deleted notes, or Dictate).

Actually, drop down menus are not always consistently designed, as shown below :

LIRE AUSSI  Those tiny details that matter !
RIGHT : The chevron which opens the Deleted Notes‘ drop down menu is closely tight to its command (notice the greyed area when the mouse pass over the command). RIGHT : The chevron on the far right is bigger, and clearly separated from the Translator‘ command.
WRONG : The chevron right to the Dictate command is separated from its command, although it brings options to the former.









Which probably makes the case for a command called “Others” (with a large chevron)  to accommodate those features that don’t fit (or soon won’t fit anymore) into the ribbon’ width.

As a matter of fact, the real hurdle to increasing command density is the layout adopted in UWP app : The name of each command stands on the right of each command’ icon in the UWP apps, whereas they stand below in desktop programs.

But moving the commands’ names below them in OneNote for W10 would probably make it loose its distinctive, modern look and feel.

Which makes the case for a new Tab called “Tools”, to spread an increasing number of features being available in OneNote for W10 (there are currently 4 tabs in OneNote for W10 vs 7 in OneNote desktop).

With limited area for commands, OneNote should also avoid to repeat the same command in two tabs, such as the Maths command (available in the Drawing tab, and Insert tab).

Also, the Deleted notes could be removed from the View menu, since it’s already available with a right click on a section or notebook’ name.

The Online video could be removed from the Insert menu – most of the time – and only show up when the clipboard contains the URL of a supported video format.


Enter command bar fly out

This new user interface feature could be an additional mean to relieve the tab & ribbon’ overload, offering more commands contextually.

Also, it will be instrumental to reduce the width of the “touch” contextual menu, as shown in this tweet (play the GIF) :

Let’s wait and see what’s coming up !


Nota 27/09 : Simplified ribbon also available in OneNote desktop :

(see the interesting reply from William Devereux, former OneNote program manager)

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